OIST Mini Symposium "Honey bee health in a changing world"


Monday, March 22, 2021 (All day) to Friday, March 26, 2021 (All day)


Hybrid (OIST + Online)


We ask for you understanding that the dates are subject to change due to the the current COVID-19 situation.


Our world is rapidly changing. In the past decade, diverse anthropogenic stress factors have altered the environment. Climate change, agrichemicals as well as rapid disease spread fostered by globalization lead to increasing extinction rates of organisms, and pressures on the food supply chain. In particular, honey bees, which are major pollinators of crops, are in direct contact with a broad spectrum of anthropogenic stressors, and have become host to novel diseases. This has led to worldwide declines, which increased the costs of pollinating important food crops, including virtually all fruits and nuts. Further declines endanger these crops entirely, and multi-disciplinary solutions to this problem are necessary.

While recent advances in analytical techniques have provided insights into what stress factors affect bee health how they may interact, the overall picture is murky. Honey bee responses towards stressors go far beyond what they have evolved to deal with. In fact, the outcome is strongly dependent on environmental conditions, including the state of their microbiome and the extent of coevolutionary evolutionary history with the particular stress factor. Therefore, bridging knowledge and data from the different scientific disciplines like genomics, microbiology, immunology and parasitology is necessary for gaining a complete picture of stress factor effects on honey bee health.

This mini-symposium intends to provide an exceptional opportunity for leading experts in the abovementioned areas to exchange ideas about current work in progress, methodological techniques, to identify current research gaps and to strengthen international collaborations. In addition, while the honey bee is a convenient model system, it is important to also fill the knowledge gaps regarding health decline and extinction risks in other bee species. Asia specifically harbors the widest diversity of honey bee species, as well as many of the ancestral pests, and we plan to make the lack of research and the opportunities to a special discussion point during the symposium.

Additionally, this mini-symposium plans to serve as an Asian connection platform to inform, develop, and help to curate existing online databases initiated by honey bee health consortium (e.g., the BeeBiome Data Portal) and associations (COLOSS, the organization that studies bee colony losses). The need, the opportunities and challenges of communication between science and beekeeping community will be discussed with the aim to develop ideas about how to encourage interactions. By designing new ideas about accessible and interactive online maps (e.g. about presence/absence of specific parasites) which should be used by scientists and beekeepers we want to foster the opportunity to join forces and learn from each other.

Taking advantage of OIST recent leadership in the field of bee health we would like to welcome international specialists to Okinawa, following the first initiative which will be held in February 2020 by the COLOSS ASIA. This workshop will leverage the attention gathered by this meeting to promote the need for international collaboration in battling current honey bee health issues and preventing the emergence of future diseases, particularly with a focus on Asia.

Speakers (in no particular order)
  • Peter NEUMANN, University of Bern
  • Philipp ENGEL, University of Lausanne
  • Robert J. PAXTON, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
  • Brock A. HARPUR, Purdue University
  • Dennis VAN ENGELSDORP, University of Maryland
  • Panuwan CHANTAWANNAKUL, University of Chiang Mai
  • Emily REMNANT, University of Sydney
  • Kiyioshi KIMURA, NARO
  • Tetsuro INAMOTO, Kyoto Sangyo University
  • Alexander MIKHEYEV, ANU, OIST 
  • Nurit ELIASH, OIST

For further details, please go to the meeting's website.

Website URL

Sponsor or Contact: 
Ecology and Evolution Unit (Alexander Mikheyev, Associate Professor (Adjunct))
All-OIST Category: 

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